BOAT CANVAS - How Much?!        

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There must be cheaper way...
Yes there is - you make your own.  It's not complicated, and you need nothing more technical than a domestic sewing machine.

WINCH COVER INSTRUCTIONS AND FREE PDF DOWNLOAD


Q?

Why is boat canvas so expensive?

A.

Because YOU let it be so, the market charges what the market will pay!  It is not rocket science to make your own canvas.  From simple winch covers to full spray hoods - anyone can do it.

Q?
Can I make it myself?

A.
Yes - and save a LOT of money!

Q?

What do I need to get started ?

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A.

A sewing machine, nothing fancy, the kind your mother has knocking about in the garage will do.  If your mother's garage is too far away look in second hand shops, online, or even department stores, prices will start at around 50 euros/dollars for a good quality second hand machine.  It is possible to get all your canvas work done on an ordinary 'domestic' machine, even a few sail repairs as well.  You don't need anything fancy, just something that will do a zig zag and a straight stitch.

Q?

How long will making a winch cover take ?

watch


A.

Well, obviously the more practice you get the less time it will take, but once you've got the idea, allow about 20mins per winch cover, from cutting out the canvas to putting it on the winch! 

Q?
Where can I buy canvas from ?

A.

If you are in a reasonable sized port, try a fabric shop or general store, explain what you want, and if they don't have it, they will know where to get it from.  Prices will vary, but expect to pay around 15 euros/dollars a mtr for good quality acrylic canvas.  Alternatively look on the internet, ebay would be a good start.  Sunbrella is the market leader in canvas, but a good quality acrylic will do just as well.


Q?

What about stitching?

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A.

It's a well known fact that canvas stitching will 'go' long before the canvas itself.  *Don't believe anyone when they tell you that their thread/stitching will last 10 years. There is however some very good thread which NASA uses, but this will cost you more than your canvas, and then some! Expect to get about 5 years from a good quality thread.  UV and humidity kills stitching, so buy the best you can find, and that your sewing machine can handle.  You don't want dynamic thread, check that it doesn't stretch.

* Tammy from Canvas & Cushions has kindly pointed out that it is now possible to get PTFE thread, which will last.  Here's what she says: 'Yes very expensive, but worth it. Solarfix can be used in most ordinary sewing machines. Less likely if computerized. I sell 1 oz. sample spools. That helps with the cost.'  You can contact Tammy Hampton  at EZ-Xtend Boat Zippers Cover Girl Marine Canvas & Upholstery 770-271-9093 www.ez-xtendboatzippers.com www.covergirl-marine-canvas-upholstery.com

Q?

What else do I need?

A.

Obviously there are a few other things you will need, scissors (if you have a hot knife - brilliant - but it's not necessary), chalk and your saloon table... and the ability to just go for it!


Q?

So, how do I make a winch cover?


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A.

Good, you've got the machine, the canvas and the thread, and you are ready to get started.  There are quite a few complicated ways of doing this simple job that include calculating pi etc, however we will leave that to the others, all you need next is some string and a plate.  Below are all the instructions...  and when you've finished making enough winch covers for yourself, your neighbors and any body else passing by you can then move onto repairing your spray hood, dodgers and lazy bag etc...

Q?

What else can I make?

A.

Anything really, cockpit bags, cockpit cushions, scatter cushions, sail covers, lazy bags, names, and don't forget, upholstery...  you are now ready to tackle the one job that would have broken the bank...  just remember, if you have the originals, don't discard them, just use them as patterns, cut up your new fabric and stitch it up.  But you are not finished quite yet, you are now able to mend all your clothes - no more walking around in ripped jeans and shirts (unless you want to).

Q?

So why is canvas work so expensive when it's so easy?

A.

Because as is said at the beginning, YOU let it be so.  There is very little skill involved - and now that you know how to do it you will never pay over the odds again.  Having said that, if you really don't want to do any canvas work, or feel that the job in hand is too big, then go to a reputable professional.  Practical Boat Cook is compiling a list of people who come highly recommended, click here for more information.  But remember when using the services of a canvas worker, ask to see their thread, because, as stated above, it is the first thing to perish. 


SAIL REPAIRS

But you're not finished yet!  What about a few sail repairs, yes, your domestic machine will cope with quite a few of these.  Even heavy cruising sails.  The trick is to take your time and set everything up first.  If possible, try taking the machine outside to work on the deck.  If not, then first things first, clear the saloon of anything that can get knocked over or damaged by yards and yards of heavy fabric.  Think about the angle of the machine, then get sewing. (If you can feed the sail through a hatch it is possible to make repairs whilst only having the relevant part of the sail inside the boat.) The proof of the pudding is always in the eating - so here are a couple of photos from the other day. The sail in question is a Doyle Barbados Offshore Yankee.  The sewing machine is a Husqvarna Viking.  This machine not only puts up with sail repairs, but makes any type of canvas, running repairs on clothes and has put up with the marine environment.

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WINCH COVER




WINCH COVER INSTRUCTIONS:

download the PDF here

YOU WILL NEED:

Sufficient canvas, thread, scissors, string and a plate..... oh and the sewing machine.  Alternatively you could hand sew this in about an hour.

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Take a plate or other round object and check that it is the same size as the base of your winch.

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Draw around the plate and then draw another circle inside for the hem (about 1-2cm).  Now take the piece of string to measure around the circle...  that piece of string is now the length of canvas that you have to cut.

Now decide what type of fastening you want for your winch cover, string or velcro.  Elastic is not a good idea as it degrades with humidity.  A velcro strap is easy, but will not last as long as a piece of string.  The string can either be attached to the cover with one stitch, or be covered with canvas.


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Making the string cover is easy.  Cut a piece of canvas about 4cm wide by the same length as your main piece of canvas for your cover.  Fold over the ends and hems and sew onto your piece of canvas, leaving enough space either end to allow for the hem. If you lay your string inside the two pieces of canvas before sewing this will save time and hassle in having to thread it through later.

Hem your piece of canvas. turn it inside out and sew it up, at this point check that it does actually fit the winch!

Take your circle of canvas and simply sew it to the body of the winch cover, if you want you can pin it in place.  Trim all your hems (just to be neat and tidy), and turn it back out....  VOILA....

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NOTE: Try never to use grommets in canvas, they pull away from the fabric - use loops of webbing sewn onto both sides.


MORE TO SEW

SAIL TIES

Using old bits of rope as sail ties?  Simply sew up some webbing and make as many as you want, and to the length that you want.





MONEY SAVERS


If you have any ideas on how to save money, let us know and we will tell the world!

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